The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

09 April 2018

Jefrey 2.0

Jefrey Arcena Nava was born on April 5th, 1992, to Jose David Nava and Benigna Raynera Arcena.

Before he turned one, he slept all day and stayed awake at night. When he learned to stand with support, he’d climb the division of our old crib. He was one year old when he spoke his first two words: “Jefrey ko.” He did not have eye contact. He did not respond when called, but responded when music was playing, by humming along with the tune.

Out of the crib, he’d always tiptoed when walking. He climbed the jalousie windows as one would a ladder, and attempted to even climb the wooden divisions my parents made, blocking the staircase. He liked round things, like the wheels of toy cars; but he turned them upside down or sideways, to spin their wheels. He would also spin anything he could spin.

It was Ate June (Tatay’s older sister and one of Jef’s godmothers), who noticed, “He could be autistic.” The terms “autistic” and “autism” sounded “new”.

Jef had a strong grip and hyperactive. Until he was around six, both my parents had to hold him, when we go out. Jef was fast -- like a real-life "The Flash". One of us always had to watch him. The second we miss, he’s gone.

He was four when my parents brought him to a day care center in Barangay Bagong Silang. At Preparatory level, the teachers noticed Jef would separate himself from his classmates by going to the window; turning toys, glasses, and tin cans upside down; spinning round things. On the second day, the Prep teachers recommended we bring Jef to ERES, because they had a SpED section. A few hours after observing Jef, and an interview with two SpED teachers and the school principal, my parents were referred to the Mandaluyong Chapter of DSWD.

As a prerequisite to Jef’s admission at the DSWD Mandaluyong Day Care Center, Tatay and Nanay decided to have him evaluated at the National Center for Mental Health, where we got his first medical abstract, stating Jef was a trainable child with autism. He was turning eight at the time. He was then referred to Padre Burgos Elementary School for higher-level SpED, and PGH for the therapy, on his anniversary at Day Care. At the the Padre Burgos SpED center, he practiced the three R’s, discipline in the classroom, and eventually pre-vocational skills.

In PGH, he started at the Developmental Pediatrics section, where he was evaluated as a classic autistic. The doctor’s words that endured? “Autism is a lifelong condition. But it can be managed.” From there, Jef had undergone sessions of Occupational Therapy, Psychotherapy, and Speech Therapy.

He spoke again after two years in Speech Therapy, starting with one-worders. He was ten. Then he went on with Group Therapy at UP College of Allied Medical Professions at 11. The Psychotherapy continues to this day.

Out of years of intervention, Jefrey is now vocal and conversant. He knows how to reason out -- uncovering the “whys” of things, He can understand emotions. He can paint, can do some household chores under supervision. He is keen on personal hygiene -- taking a bath every day, washing his hands often. He joins group activities soccer clinics, cook-offs, arts and crafts, and the like. He still loves jolly music, singing along with them playing in his mp3 player on loudspeaker.

While the challenges associated with his autism remain, we are so happy he has gone this far. We are thankful for all the social workers, doctors, therapists, relatives, and friends, for their advice and support.

About the contributor. Rina A. Nava is Jef's older sibling, six years his senior.


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